Pet Trade

Caged for 7 years. Young orangutan kept as a pet is finally offered a lifeline.

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It’s never a phone call we wish to receive, but in the same week that our team rescued a pair of wild orangutans from an isolated oil palm plantation, we received news of another orangutan being kept as a pet also in need of rescue. The owner had contacted government officials as they could no longer care for the ape, and therefore Orangutan Foundation staff were called upon to assist.

Arriving at the property where the orangutan was being kept in Central Kalimantan, Borneo, it quickly became apparent that the individual had been kept there a very long time. Our team tentatively approached a wooden crate with litter strewn on the ground surrounding it.

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The orangutan had been named Pegi by her owner. It transpired that Pegi was a female orangutan found as a 1-year-old in 2012 and incredibly had been living in her cramped wooden crate as a pet for the following 7 years on a diet of rice, noodles, fruit and sugary drinks. Certainly not a diet suitable for orangutans.

After obtaining as much information about the young orangutan as possible and informing the owner of the prohibitions around keeping wild animals’ captive, our team freed Pegi from her cage and transported her to a government facility (BKSDA) where her health could be inspected.

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Fortunately under examination Pegi seemed in good health, and as her blood tests received the all-clear, she was ready to be taken to her new home at Camp Buluh in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. It’s here that she’ll join another orphaned orangutan, Okto, in our soft-release programme, with the hope of one day being released into the wild.

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The early years of any orangutan’s life are the most important in order to learn how to survive in the wild. With Pegi’s traumatic start to her young life, and perhaps never even climbing a tree before, she will need encouragement to learn these skills in the best possible training ground there is- the forest.

Pegi is given some browse to begin the enrichment process

Pegi is given some browse to begin the enrichment process

Meet Aan the orangutan

To celebrate Orangutan Awareness Week, we are telling the stories of some of the orangutans who have been given a second chance thanks to your support for our work, but unfortunately, not all have a second chance in the wild. Aan

Aan, 2013. Image© Orangutan Foundation.

Aan is a blind orangutan. She first came to us in 2012, having been found stranded on an oil-palm plantation, after being shot over 100 times with an air gun. The injuries sustained left Aan blind. You can read more about her rescue here.

X-ray taken in 2012 of Bornean orangutan, Aan’s skull, showing pellets. Image© Orangutan Foundation.

In 2016, we arranged for an ophthalmic surgeon to visit Aan to see if there was any chance of restoring her sight, with the hope that one day she could return to the wild. Aan underwent surgery but it soon became clear that the damage sustained was too severe and Aan would be permanantly blind.

Aan, blind orangutan. Image© Orangutan Foundation.

Aan lives in a purpose-built enclosure at Camp Gemini, where our vet clinic is located, in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. Our staff give her the best quality of life that is possible, but sadly Aan can never return to the forest, where she belongs.

Aan in her permanent enclosure, with enrichment. Image© Orangutan Foundation.

Aan’s story serves as a heartbreaking reminder that the threat to orangutans caused by habitat loss is a very real one. Please support our care of Aan during Orangutan Awareness Week by donating here.

Meet Kotim the orangutan

It is Orangutan Awareness Week and each day we will bring you a story about the orangutans in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. Thanks to your support we are protecting their forest home the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve and keeping them wild and free. Kotim

Kotim, February 2017. Image© Orangutan Foundation.

Kotim was rescued in 2014. She was handed over to Orangutan Foundation after being illegally kept as pet. Sadly, we can only assume that her mother was killed.

Kotim, 2015. Image© Orangutan Foundation.

At three-years-old Kotim was too young to be released back into the wild and so entered into the care of our Soft-Release Programme, at Camp Rasak in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, Indonesian Borneo. Kotim joined another infant orphan, Torup. They became playmates and together practised their nest-building and climbing skills.

Kotim and Torup in the trees, 2016. Image© Orangutan Foundation.

By April 2016, Kotim was deemed to have all the skills needed to survive in the forest and was successfully released. She is still occasionally seen by Orangutan Foundation staff. In December 2016, Kotim was seen with adult female orangutan Acuy and her infant, Ariel.

Acuy and Ariel. Image© Orangutan Foundation.

Support Kotim during Orangutan Awareness Week. Please donate to help us protect her tropical forest home. Keep forests standing and orangutans in the wild.

Please donate here.

Here's a video of Kotim whilst under our care in our Soft-Release Programme:

Meet Bangkal the orangutan

To celebrate Orangutan Awareness Week, we are telling the stories of some of the orangutans who have been given a second chance thanks to your support for our work. Bangkal

Bangkal, dominant male of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. Image© Orangutan Foundation.

In the late 1980’s Bangkal was an orphaned infant, being kept as a pet. He was rescued, rehabilitated over many years, and then released into Tanjung Puting National Park, Central Kalimantan Indonesian Borneo.

Bangkal in 2000. Image© Orangutan Foundation.

In 2000, when illegal logging was rife in Indonesia’s National Parks, Bangkal became the victim of a horrifying incident. Illegal loggers threw hot oil over him resulting in a burn down his face and neck.

During his recovery, Bangkal protected himself from annoying insects, by using a blanket to cover his injured face. Once recovered, Bangkal was released again but this time into the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

Now aged around 28 years-old, cheek-padded Bangkal is magnificent. He is the dominant male around Camp Gemini and is thought to have fathered many offspring.

Bangkal, during a visit to the feeding station by Camp Gemini. Image© Orangutan Foundation.

Support Bangkal during Orangutan Awareness Week! Please donate here to help us protect Bangkal in his forest home.

Meet Holahonolulu the orangutan

To celebrate Orangutan Awareness Week, we are telling the stories of some of the orangutans who have been given a second chance thanks to your support for our work. Holahonolulu

Holahonolulu in 2015. Image© Orangutan Foundation.

Holahonolulu is a wild born adult female orangutan. Her mother, Huber, was released into the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve in around 2000 and Holahonolulu was born in 2004. Huber unfortunately passed away in 2012.

Holahonolulu in 2016, with a wild male. Image© Sophie Hanson.

Holahonolulu is often seen by Orangutan Foundation staff at the feeding station, close to Camp Gemini. She been observed with Bangkal, a dominant male, mating on several occasions.  Orangutans have a gestation period of about 9 months, it is slightly shorter than humans. Watch this space for the announcement of a new arrival in a few months’ time!

Bangkal, dominant male in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. Image© Orangutan Foundation.

We are delighted when released orangutans go on to produce future generations. The orangutans of Lamandau Wildlife Reserve are now a healthy, viable and growing population.

Support Holahonolulu during Orangutan Awareness Week here! Please donate to help us protect her tropical forest home.

Freedom in the wild

If you want something done, ask a busy person. This expression is especially true for Orangutan Foundation Director, Ashley Leiman OBE, who has just returned from a field visit to our programmes in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. One of the highlights was a tree planting ceremony to celebrate the planting out of over 22,000 seedlings in degraded forest habitat in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. The most memorable day though involved the return to the wild of seven different species. Captured from the wild and kept as pets, these animals had been confiscated by the Wildlife Department of Central Kalimantan (BKSDA Kalteng). The day was also a chance for Ashley to meet Bapak Adib Gunawan, the new Head of Wildlife for Central Kalimantan, who was overseeing the releases.

Staff from two of the guard posts in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve with Ashley Leiman OBE, Director of the Orangutan Foundation and Bapak Adib Gunawan, Head of BKSDA Kalteng. Image© Orangutan Foundation.

The animals due for release included two changeable hawk eagles, a hornbill, a pangolin, a slow loris, two reticulated pythons, a sun bear and a young orangutan.

OF Director Ashley Leiman OBE with Pak Adib, Head of Wildlife, about to release a Changeable Hawk Eagle

The orangutan, a handsome young male of around one-and-a-half years old, had been kept as a pet in a nearby town. He was named Adib, after the new Head of Wildlife, and has joined our Soft-Release Programme at Camp JL, in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, where he’ll learn the skills to survive in the forests.

Adib the orangutan, named after the new Head of Wildlife

Adib the orangutan, a handsome male of around 2 years old.

Paddington the sun bear helping himself to a light refreshment. Credit Ian Wood

A playful sun bear, named Paddington (also a pet), was taken to Camp Siswoyo, where Orangutan Foundation staff will care for him until he is old enough to live independently. The slow loris, being a nocturnal primate, was released after nightfall.

The hornbill has a nibble pre-release. Image ©Ian Wood.

The changeable hawk eagles and hornbill were released from a guard post in the reserve, and Ashley opened the slide door to the crate of the pythons.

Changeable Hawk Eagle, post release. Image ©Ian Wood.

Close up of a Changeable Hawk Eagle. Image© Ian Wood.

One of the animals released was a large reticulated python. Image© Orangutan Foundation.

Over 3 meters in length, Ashley questioned why anyone would want to keep the snakes as a pet! We’ll post a separate blog on the pangolin, so watch this space.

Python released into the wild. Image ©Ian Wood.

Ashley pointed out that our work for these animals has only just begun. Through our habitat protection work we must ensure that the forests stay standing, so the wildlife stays in the wild.

OF Director Ashley Leiman OBE with Pak Adib, Head of Wildlife, Central Kalimantan. Image© Ian Wood.

Please support our work, donate now.

Thank you.

Orangutan, Bumi, Rescued With Bullet Wounds

On 19th June 2017, BKSDA informed our field staff that they had just confiscated an orangutan from people who had been keeping it as a pet in a nearby village. This orangutan was entrusted into the care of the Orangutan Foundation.

The male orangutan was named Bumi (which means Earth in English) and was estimated to be about 3 and a half years old.

Our vet checked Bumi’s health and overall condition, which proved quite difficult as he wouldn’t stay still! He was anesthetized as it was vital that he was looked over thoroughly for any injuries or illness.

During the assessment, bullets were discovered in Bumi’s body. We are uncertain of the origin of the bullets, but it is likely a result of people attempting to shoot the mother to obtain the infant.

This, tragically, is how most orangutans enter our Soft-Release Programme.

In total, 7 bullets were removed from Bumi’s body. Bumi was given health supplements, and once he’d recovered from the operation, he was ready to join our Soft-Release Programme.

Bumi was taken to Camp Rasak in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, Indonesian Borneo. Here he will be cared for alongside Endut, an orangutan of a similar age also rescued from being kept as a pet last March.

Staff report that since settling in Bumi appears to have a good appetite and has already displayed nest-making skills.

Watch this clip to see Bumi showing off his skills:

Please DONATE today to support the progress of Bumi and the other orangutans currently in our Soft-Release Programme.

 

Meet Our Soft-Release Orangutans - Part 3

In this blog entry we focus on Camp Rasak, where orangutans in the final stage of the soft-release programme before their release into the wild are monitored. The Lamandau Wildlife Reserve in Indonesian Borneo is a protected reintroduction site, where rescued orangutans can be released safely.

From this Reserve we run our Soft-Release Programme for rescued orangutans too young to return to this wild. Watch this short clip to find out how this programme equips these orangutans for a life in the forest:

Reintroduction Camps

There are 5 Camps located in Lamandau:

Depending on the age and development of the orangutan they are placed into one of the camps which is best suited for their needs. Camp staff monitor all rescued orangutans.

Currently we have 10 orangutans within our soft-release programme.

Meet the orangutans being cared for at Camp Rasak…

Endut

Endut is a 3 year old male who was rescued last March, named after his rather round belly. Endut is improving his climbing skills and has become much braver in the past couple of months, but is still has a way to go in order to be ready for release.

Ketty

Daughter of Korin, a reintroduced orangutan who inhabited the forest around Camp Gemini. Korin sadly disappeared in 2013 and Ketty was found alone. Since joining the Programme Ketty has come along in leaps and bounds, or should we say, climbs and swings!

At 5 years of age,she's always displayed skills more advanced than the orangutans being cared for alongside her, which is likely a result of spending some time with her mother in her early years.

Jessica

Jessica was rescued from a local town where she was being kept as a pet in 2016. In spite of this she retained her natural instincts well and didn't take long to adapt to life in the trees. At 5 years of age, she is advanced in her progress, displaying excellent survival skills.

What Next…?

After keeping a close watch on Ketty and Jessica, staff are now confident that they have the skills required to live in the wild: nest-building, finding food, and climbing to the top of the canopy.

The Soft-Release Programme exists within the same area of forest where orangutans are released. As past experience has shown, once released orangutans are often seen in the forest around camp so we are able to continue to keep a watchful eye on them.

Following release, orangutans are monitored for two weeks so that staff can ensure they are adapting well to living independently. Once released, we hope all will go on to live fulfilling lives in the wild, away from the threat of habitat loss and human activity.

Next week we follow the release of Ketty and Jessica!

Support our Soft-Release Programme and adopt an orangutan today.

All proceeds from our Adoption Scheme go towards medical treatment, food and care of these orangutans during their time in soft-release.

The Orangutan Foundation's 5 Programmes in Indonesian Borneo

Watch this short video to learn about our 5 ongoing programmes in Indonesian Borneo:

Please help us ensure a future for orangutans, forests and people. To support our work with a donation, please click here.

Thank you.

Meet our Soft-Release Orangutans - Part 2

In this blog post we focus on Camp Buluh, where orangutans in the intermediate stage between being very young and those soon to be released fully into the wild are cared for. The Lamandau Wildlife Reserve in Indonesian Borneo is a protected reintroduction site, where rescued orangutans can be released safely.

From this Reserve we run our Soft-Release Programme for rescued orangutans too young to return to this wild. Watch this short clip to find out how this programme equips these orangutans for a life in the forest:

Reintroduction Camps

There are 5 Camps located in Lamandau:

From our 5 reintroduction camps staff monitor all rescued and rehabilitated orangutans. Depending on the age and development of the orangutan they are placed into one of the camps which is best suited for their needs.

Currently we have 10 orangutans within our soft-release programme.

Meet the orangutans being cared for at Camp Buluh…

Okto

Okto is perhaps the most notorious of the orangutans currently in our care! Starring in Sky 1 and Offspring Film’s “Monkeys – An Amazing Animal Family” and the face of our Adoption Scheme; Okto is a confident yet mischievous 5 year old male.

Shifa

Shifa is a female orangutan who was rescued in September 2016 after being kept as a pet for about a year. She initially had problems with hair loss, possibly as a result of stress, but is being treated by the Foundation’s vet and has visibly improved.

 

Support our Soft-Release Programme and adopt Okto today.

All proceeds from our Adoption Scheme go towards medical treatment, food and care of these orangutans as they grow and develop.

Meet Our Soft-Release Orangutans - Part 1

The Lamandau Wildlife Reserve in Indonesian Borneo is a protected reintroduction site, where rescued orangutans can be released safely. From this Reserve we run our Soft-Release Programme for rescued orangutans too young to return to this wild. Watch this short clip to find out how this programme equips these orangutans for a life in the forest:

Reintroduction Camps

There are 5 Camps located in Lamandau:

These camps monitor all rescued and rehabilitated orangutans. Depending on the age and development of the orangutan they are placed into one of the camps which is best suited for their needs.

Currently we have 10 orangutans within our soft-release programme.

Camp JL is where the very youngest orangutans are placed.

Meet Timtom

Timtom was just nine months old when she was rescued last January. Not surprisingly, she was not too confident at first as at this age she should still be in the care of her mother, but has now begun to show great improvement. Once cautious, she now climbs happily to the top of a tree.

Meet Mona

Mona is a female orangutan, just 2 years old. She was recently rescued in March 2017 from a family in a local village who were keeping her as a pet.  With no mother she looks to Nyunyu for company, who was rescued around the same time.

Meet Nyunyu

Nyunyu, female around 3 years old. She displays more wild behaviour than Mona, despite being kept as a pet for about 2 years. She was found tied up in a garden, but now shows her adventurous side when climbing.

Meet Boy

Boy is the most recent orangutan to join the Programme, a male aged about 3 years. He had been kept as a pet for 3 months and was given up by locals of a nearby village.

Another young orangutan is being cared for at Camp Siswoyo.

Meet Satria

Satria is a male orangutan rescued last June, around 2 and a half years old. He has now started foraging, but is still very young and has a lot to learn.

Next week we look forward to introducing you to more of our soft-release orangutans!

Momong - Sun Bear Rescue

On Thursday, 26 January 2017, Orangutan Foundation field staff responded to a call about a sun bear being kept as a pet in a local town. Upon arrival, field staff met with the owner of the sun bear, which had been named Momong, to carry out the rescue. Momong turned out to be a young female sun bear of around 2 years old. Momong had been kept as a pet for just under a year, but despite being deprived of natural sources of food, the Foundation’s vet determined that she was in reasonably healthy condition.

Momong was taken to Camp JL in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, Indonesian Borneo - where after careful monitoring and assessment to check she was ready, she was released. As proven with previous translocations, sun bears can wreak havoc around camp, and Momong was no different! The following week after release Momong kept trying to return to Camp JL, damaging camp facilities in the process.

The decision was made to recapture Momong and to release her 1km away from camp to prevent her returning, and encourage Momong to integrate back into the forest where she belongs.

Field staff are pleased to report the second release has been successful.

Watch footage of Momong’s release:

You can support our Animal Rescue and Release Programme here.

Thank you.

Orangutan Foundation

 

Orangutans Are Not Pets

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At the Orangutan Foundation, we experience first-hand the consequences of people keeping orangutans as pets through many of our rescues. Keeping an orangutan as a pet has been illegal since 1931 under Indonesian and international law. Orangutans are also protected by international trading laws (CITES), where they are listed as Appendix I, prohibiting all unlicensed trade. In Central Kalimantan we are often finding cases where infants are simply being kept as pets after being found near community land with no mother. We don't see evidence of illegal pet trade in Central Kalimantan, however, as habitat destruction increases, orangutans are more commonly being found in and around villages and towns.

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Orangutan infants are entirely dependent on their mother until 5 years of age, and most commonly stay with them until they are around 8 or 9 years old. This time together is crucial for the mother to teach them where in the forest to find food and shelter. It is important to learn where the fruiting trees are, as well as the best time of year to find them! If an orangutan isn't given the opportunity to learn these skills, their chances of survival in the forest are slim without the help of our soft-release programme, where they have a chance to practice skills such as climbing and nest building before being released in the wild.

2 People keeping orangutans as pets generally do not feed them the right kinds of food, and because of this many orangutans we rescue are severely malnourished. This can lead to serious health problems. Mental health can also be a problem. Primates in particular can suffer emotional and psychological trauma just as we do. For example, many orangutans rescued as pets are said to show signs of depression through lack of appetite. They need the opportunity to learn from their mother, to explore their environment and develop naturally in order to live a fulfilling life.

Of course, it is also important to note that as primates are wild animals (not domesticated, like a dog or a cat), this makes their actions unpredictable. Orangutans are very strong, and have to be, or else they would not be able to move around with such ease high up in the canopy. They can inflict serious damage, and are known to bite to defend themselves.

At the Orangutan Foundation, we believe it is wrong for people to keep orangutans as pets, and hope to future eliminate this issue through improved education and awareness. In Central Kalimantan it is becoming a more and more noticeable problem, which we believe may be related to habitat loss as a result of forest fires. This will continue to be a problem in future unless action is taken. We hope that through publicising our rescues and working closely with local communities, people will better understand the plight of orangutans, and learn that they are best left in the forest.

Show your support!  #PrimatesAreNotPets #PrimatesNotPlaymates

 

 

Young orangutan rescued from local village

Last month, a staff member from the BKSDA informed us that someone had come to their office wanting to surrender an orangutan. The man was a local person from the town of Sampit, whose cousin had been keeping an orangutan in his home with the intent to sell him. Lokasi Penyerahan ENDUT

When the BKSDA went to the man’s house, they found the infant orangutan in a small wire chicken cage, where he had been living on a generous diet of milk and bananas for several weeks. The man claimed that he had found the young ape in his rubber plant garden a month prior when he heard it crying, seemingly abandoned by his mother.

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Fortunately the BKSDA has now passed the infant orangutan on to the Orangutan Foundation, where he has been given proper health checks and will soon enter our soft-release programme. The orangutan weighed 4kg, and has been named Endut (an Indonesian term for someone with a large stomach) because of his big belly! Endut has been brought to Camp Buluh in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, and we are confident with the knowledge that in time he will be healthy enough to live independently in the forest.

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Endut

We are thrilled that Endut is now in the safety of the reserve, but sadly this story points to a larger problem. Endut is the third infant orangutan to be surrendered to the Orangutan Foundation by local villagers this year alone*. It is worrying that in spite of all the outreach and education done in Central Kalimantan, people today are still enamoured with the idea of having an orangutan as a pet. This belief is unfounded and unfair to the wild animal in question - not to mention highly illegal in Indonesia.

On top of this, one question continues to plague our minds: why are these infants being abandoned in the first place? Has their mother ran away or has she been harmed? When an infant is reported to the Foundation, we may never find out what happened to their mothers. Yet with three orphaned infants found in the same area of Central Kalimantan within the space of two months, this situation is very unsettling.

We hope that our supporters will help us to raise awareness for the importance of keeping orangutans in the wild.

*As this blog was being written, another infant orangutan was rescued by the Orangutan Foundation from a local village.

 

Rescued but Not Free

We think all concerned must have been surprised to find a 12-year-old male sun bear being kept as a pet by Mr Sutiyo, the vice-head of the district resort police. Mr Sutiyo had kept the sun bear for 12 years, feeding him a fattening diet of rice, sugar and honey. Upon the arrival of a translocation team, the bear was anaesthetised by the Foundation vet, Dr Wawan, and put into a large cage so that he could be transported to Pangkalan Bun. s drh. wawan DSC_8031

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As Mr Sutiyo was leaving Sampit, for Jakarta, he finally made the decision to give his pet up to the authorities, and allow him be returned to the wild. Unfortunately, since the sun bear has been kept as a pet for so many years, and is very overweight due to its poor diet, it will not make a suitable candidate for release. Exotic pets lack the ability to feed, protect or more generally fend for themselves in the wild, and they face an extremely low rate of survival if released without these skills.

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For this reason, our staff could not free the sun bear into one of the Foundation’s release sites. Instead it was coordinated that the sun bear be taken to Orangutan Foundation International’s (OFI) orangutan care and quarantine facility, where he will get the care he needs, yet sadly with little hope of eventual release.

This is a prime example of the unfair consequences of keeping wild animals as pets, and is sadly not the first case we’ve heard of people in authoritative positions being held accountable. Cases like these only highlight the importance of our educational programmes, through which the Foundation endeavours to teach local communities the implications of holding orangutans captive. We hope that these programmes continue to be met with great success.

Help us to continue this much-needed work by donating toward our educational programmes in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. http://www.orangutan.org.uk/how-to-help/make-a-donation